The following is the first sentence in an AP story that made some papers Wednesday morning:
“WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats may try to override a decision by President Bush to leave stopgap children’s health insurance money out of his 2007 emergency war spending proposal.”
What’s wrong with this picture? (Aside, that is, from the usual smear you can expect from the AP, in this case an unfounded innuendo that implies that President Bush doesn’t care about children’s health care?) The problem, as I see it, is the assumption that an ’emergency war spending proposal” should have a ‘rider’ on it that provides funding for something other than emergency war spending.
It’s an all too common practice among the thieves, liars and cowards that populate Capital Hill (thieves, liars and cowards on both sides of the isle) to “attach” legislation onto other legislation. There are two reasons for using riders:
1) Some lawmakers have a piece of legislation that is so weak and inappropriate that they know it will never pass on its own, so they attach it to a piece of legislation that is almost certain to pass.
2) A popular piece of legislation is opposed by certain lawmakers so they attach a clearly inappropriate piece of legislation to it (known as a “poison pill”) — if the original legislation passes and is presented to the President to sign, their hope is that he will veto the bill because of the attached “poison pill.”
There is an obvious way around this problem of attached legislation and, in fact, the problem was solved, for a far too short time, in 1996.
In April of 1996 President Clinton signed “The Line Item Veto Act” into law. This law allowed the president to strike out any items he opposed, as long as he didn’t change the intent of the primary legislation, and then sign the approved legislation into law. The unapproved part is then returned to congress where they can resubmit it as a separate bill which the president can then either sign or veto.
Almost immediately after President Clinton signed this bill into law, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd and five other senators (all of whom fit in the thieves, liars and cowards category) filed a Federal Law Suit to have the law declared unconstitutional. The first lawsuit didn’t quite do the job but eventually (about two years later), in a case called Clinton vs. New York the Supreme court declared that the president must either sign or veto any legislation in its entirety. The court, in a decision that showed that convoluted logic sometimes rules the day, decided that because the Constitution did not give the president express permission to modify legislation it must mean that the practice is expressly prohibited by the Constitution.
President Bush has also, many times, called for a line item veto but the legislation is heavily opposed by those thieves, liars and cowards who want to continue to feather their political nests with “pork barrel” projects that benefit their states and buy them votes.
As ingenious and prophetic as the framers of our Constitution were, they apparently did not see the day coming when the public would elect (and continuously re-elect) Senators and Congressmen who would so blatantly misuse their powers to subvert the system of government they created.
Arizona Star Democrat: Democrats may try to override Bush on funding for children’s insurance
CNN All Politics (From 6/25/98): Supreme Court Deletes Line-Item Veto
Wikipedia: Rider (legislation)
From the blogosphere:
Drudge Retort: Dems Sour on Line-Item Veto
The Hill’s Congress Blog: A Limited Line Item Veto